Funky flavour

Duo brings ‘huge sound’ to Prince Al­bert

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - JA­SON KERR

You never know what you’ll hear over the speak­ers when An­drew Sned­don and Matthew Hor­nell start trav­el­ling to­gether.

On some days it’s Fred Ea­gle­smith and Corb Lund. On oth­ers it’s clas­si­cal music and be­bop jazz.

The mix of artists and gen­res ex­tends to their show, where you’re just as likely to hear an east coast Celtic folk tune as a prairie blue­grass bal­lad. The song se­lec­tion echoes the duo’s com­mon theme: just play good music.

“I think it’s the flavour,” Hor­nell says when asked why the duo has been so suc­cess­ful. “We’re mix­ing in all of the things that we like: coun­try, folk songs, songs we wrote, in­stru­men­tals … our man­date is just to play good music that we en­joy.”

While en­joy­able, play­ing what you like re­quires a lot of flex­i­bil­ity. In their six years to­gether, Sned­don and Hor­nell have mas­tered the art of im­pro­vi­sa­tion. It’s helped keep their show fresh, and each musician on his toes.

“It’s a great mu­si­cal re­la­tion­ship,” Sned­don ex­plains. “Work­ing in a duo sit­u­a­tion like that of­fers you a lot of lee­way in live set­tings to ex­per­i­ment and try dif­fer­ent things.”

Then he chuck­les.

“If some­thing hap­pens, you don’t have a whole band that’s go­ing to come to a crash­ing halt.”

Al­though they’re tour­ing the prairies as a duo, both Hor­nell and Sned­don got their start play­ing to­gether in a band in Hal­i­fax.

They met af­ter Hor­nell, who has roots in Swift Cur­rent and St. John’s, New­found­land, hired a friend of Sned­don’s to play as a backup musician for a gig in Nova Sco­tia. Sned­don him­self joined them shortly af­ter.

Even­tu­ally the group be­came a twoman show with a new al­bum called “Ap­pear­ing Live.” The tracks came solely from per­for­mances in Hal­i­fax and St. John’s, as well as a live ses­sion with friends from the Toronto-based blue­grass band “Un­seen Strangers.”

Al­though both per­form­ers main­tain a few other mu­si­cal side projects, trav­el­ling and work­ing to­gether is the most time-con­sum­ing, and re­ward­ing, part of their ca­reers.

“We be­came good friends, so be­ing able to travel, work and per­form with your friends makes it much bet­ter,” Sned­don says. “Some­times it’s worse, but in the long run it’s a lot bet­ter. Matthew’s a great singer, a great gui­tar player and a great song­writer. He’s gen­er­ally a great artist, and our mu­si­cal ideas fit to­gether.”

“Ev­ery time we play … peo­ple are like, ‘there’s just two of you and it sounds huge,’” Hor­nell adds with a laugh. “The road can be tax­ing, but when you’re do­ing it with some­one you don’t mind be­ing around and you’ve got a his­tory with, it can be fun.”

Af­ter stops in Regina, Saska­toon, La Ronge, Wey­burn and Big River, the mu­si­cal duo heads to Prince Al­bert for the eighth day of a four-week prairie tour. It’s an ex­cit­ing mo­ment for both singers, who en­joy the trav­el­ling and in­ter­ac­tion with music lovers across the coun­try.

“The peo­ple in Saskatchewan re­mind me so much of the peo­ple in New­found­land,” Hor­nell says. “Whether it’s the re­liance on the land or the com­mu­nity mind­set, ev­ery­body kind of gets by to­gether.”

The jour­ney even oc­ca­sion­ally pro­vides source ma­te­rial for songs of their own.

“The funny thing about in­spi­ra­tion is it can come from any­where and ev­ery­where,” Sned­don says. “We travel a lot, so we get a lot.”

Hor­nell and Sned­don per­form on Oct. 28 at the Rock Trout Café. The show starts at 8 p.m. The open­ing act is lo­cal musician Gord Vade­laand per­form­ing with his son, Jake.


East coast mu­si­cal duo An­drew Sned­don (left) and Matthew Hor­nell (right) have a love for al­most ev­ery genre of music, and that love comes out in their show.

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